Posts Tagged ‘wildflowers’

Lower Falls Trail in Golden Ears Provincial Park

Lower Falls and the emerald pools of Gold Creek at Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada.

lower falls and emerald pools of gold creek in golden ears provincial park

Lower Falls in Golden Ears Provincial Park

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   One of the easier hikes to do in Golden Ears Provincial Park is the Lower Falls Trail (map) along Gold Creek. The trailhead is easy to find at the northwest end of the parking lot (the grey spot just after the Gold Creek Bridge on the map linked earlier). This hike is only 5.5km (round trip) and has minimal elevation change which makes it much more accessible than some of the other trails in Golden Ears Park. The trail has also been upgraded in recent years, so much of it is crushed gravel. Personally I dislike walking on crushed gravel and prefer a natural trail even with tree roots, slugs and the occasional puddle. I guess the resurfacing does have some benefit in initial parts of the trail that were often filled with puddles and mud in the spring and fall, but I would have preferred they left the rest as is. I have previously hiked to Alder Flats on a number of occasions, and while that is a nice hike, it doesn’t have the scenery one gets to enjoy along the much easier Lower Falls Trail.

   After walking about 1km up the trail from the parking lot I came to the first spot where I stopped for photography. There are many small side trails down to the creek along the entire Lower Falls Trail (be sure to follow those instead of making your own). My first stop was only about 5 meters from the trail and showed a nice summer view of Gold Creek. This looks to be a good spot to stop during fall foliage colors as well.

   My next stop was probably the most famous spot along the Lower Falls Trail – the viewpoint where one can see Gold Creek and parts of Mount Blandshard. Just before this viewpoint you’ll see a number of side trails to a beach which is a great spot to stop and eat lunch or just relax.

lower falls and gold creek with a flowering streambank arnica

Lower Falls and Streambank Arnica

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   After a 10-15 minute walk from the viewpoint I arrived at my ultimate destination: Lower Falls itself. The water levels shown here are probably more typical in late August, but were this low in late June due to our lack of winter snowpack in the mountains and a drought this spring/summer. In normal years this waterfall will be a raging torrent in fall, winter and spring – and can be quite dangerous. I was able to get up on a rock and photograph Lower Falls from a nice vantage point but only due to the lower water levels and lack of strong currents (and depth) in the water below. In far too many of the past years people have fallen into the water at various points in Gold Creek and died as a result.

   Many of the cracks in the rocks near Lower Falls had Streambank Arnica (Arnica amplexicaulis) growing in them. I was lucky that one of the Arnica plants was in a good position to include in the above composition along with the waterfall. On my way back to the main viewing platform I photographed one of the other Streambank Arnica plants growing in a crack in one of the boulders beneath the falls.

streambank arnica growing out of rocks near lower falls

Streambank Arnica (Arnica amplexicaulis) flowering next to Lower Falls

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For more of my photographs from the Golden Ears area visit my Golden Ears Provincial Park Gallery.

Hiking in the Wildflowers at Mount Rainier National Park

Hiking in the wildflowers around Tipsoo Lake in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State, USA.

hiking in the wildflowers at mount rainier national park

Hiking in the Wildflowers at Mount Rainier’s Tipsoo Lake

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Due to the very dry, hot spring/summer which has come after a winter with a lower than normal snowpack, I hear the wildflowers are nearing (or at) peak now at Mount Rainier (July 1, 2015).

   2012 was the first time I visited Mount Rainier National Park during the height of the wildflowers in the Paradise and Tipsoo Lake areas. I had been to Rainier a few times at that point, but once you see fields of wildflowers this dense it becomes harder to visit any other time of year. I made this image of 3 hikers near Tipsoo Lake on a foggy afternoon which made for perfect conditions to photograph this location.

For more wildflower photographs from this and other visits to the park please take a look at my Mount Rainier National Park Gallery.

Bigleaf Lupines at Elgin Heritage Park

Bigleaf Lupines (Lupinus polyphyllus) in the forest at Elgin Heritage Park in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

bigleaf lupines at elgin heritage park in crescent beach

Bigleaf Lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus) at Elgin Heritage Park in Crescent Beach

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   These are some of the numerous Bigleaf Lupines (Lupinus polyphyllus) growing in Elgin Heritage Park in Surrey, BC. On my way to photograph Red-winged Blackbirds in the marsh boardwalk, I stopped to photograph these lupines growing in some of the meadows along the way. I’ve mostly seen these lupines on the roadsides around Metro Vancouver and into the Fraser Valley, so it was nice to see them in relatively photogenic location.

bigleaf lupines at elgin heritage park in crescent beach

“Barn” nesting space for Barn Owls at Elgin Heritage Park

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   This is a small “barn” built in Elgin Heritage Park to encourage nesting Barn Owls. This seems like a good location for owls, I saw many small rodents (and not just baby rabbits) around the trails, especially under the boardwalk in the marsh.

For more of my wildflower photography please visit my Wildflower Gallery in my Image Library.

Mount Rainier from Sunrise

Mount Rainier and the White River Valley in late Summer from the vantage point of the Sunrise Rim Trail in Mount Rainier National Park. Foreground flowers are Alpine Aster (Aster alpigenus) and Paintbrush (Castilleja parviflora).

mount rainier and wildflowers from the sunrise rim trail

Wildflowers at Mount Rainier’s Sunrise Rim Trail

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   Back in 2012 I was on a trip photographing Mount Rainier National Park. This was the first time I had visited at a good time for the wildflower display at Rainier. I had already photographed some great flower displays at Tipsoo Lake, but was visiting the Sunrise area as Paradise was fogged in. You can’t see any of the clouds in this photograph but on the other side of the mountain visibility was very poor all day. From Paradise you could barely make out the Tatoosh Range through all the clouds. This is one of the reasons I enjoy the fact they have web cameras at various areas of the park – I can scout the locations ahead for time for weather that might be a problem. On this day I opted for the Sunrise area over Paradise (due to what I saw on the webcam) so I would be able to see Rainier itself. This photo is from the Sunrise Rim Trail on the way back from Shadow Lake.

For more images of this area visit my Mount Rainier National Park Gallery in my Image Library.

Tatoosh Sunset from Mazama Ridge

Wildflowers and the Tatoosh Range from Mazama Ridge in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State, USA.

sunset at the tatoosh range on mazama ridge in rainier national park

Wildflowers on Mazama Ridge (Purchase)

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   A slightly different version of some previous photographs of the Tatoosh Range from Mazama Ridge in Washington State’s Mount Rainier National Park. I had a great evening hiking from the Paradise area, and this sunset was a big part of that. This area remains one of my favourite places in the park, and the near constant view of the Tatoosh Range is one big reason why. Wildflowers also help. Next time I will hike from the Paradise Inn, not from the bottom of Paradise Valley, however. Not a forgiving trail in the dark!

You can view more of my photography from this and surrounding Mount Rainier areas in my Mount Rainier National Park Gallery.

Mazama Ridge in Mount Rainier National Park

   Sunset over the Cascade Range from the Skyline Trail on Mazama Ridge. The Paradise Inn, Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center and Paradise Valley Road are in the foreground – Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State, USA.

sunset over mount rainier national park from mazama ridge

Sunset in Mount Rainier National Park from the Skyline Trail on Mazama Ridge

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   On the first day of my trip to Mount Rainier National Park last year I hiked up to Mazama Ridge. I’d seen a number of photographs from there before, and it looked like a good place to start exploring the area around Paradise – beyond the views available from the roadside. I parked at the small lot (elevation: 5250 feet or 1600 meters) near the Paradise River bridge in Paradise Valley, and hiked up the Fourth Crossing Trail. I’ve been part way up this trail in the past, and though parts of it feel a lot like climbing stairs much of this is right next to the Paradise River which makes it a bit more pleasant. The Fourth Crossing Trail eventually meets up with the Skyline Trail after a climb of around 250 feet (76 m) in elevation. If I had to do this again I would park near the Paradise Inn and walk the Skyline trail from there rather than heading back down to my car along the Fourth Crossing Trail in the dark.

   From the junction of the Skyline and Fourth Crossing trails there is a series of switchbacks to get you up to Mazama Ridge (at an elevation of around 5800 feet (1770m)). The Skyline Trail then comes to a junction with the Lakes Trail (which Google refers to as the Mazama Ridge Trail). As I was still primarily scouting I headed down the Lakes Trail in search of wildflowers and places to photograph. This trail heads downhill gently at first, but if you wish it will take you all the way down to Reflection Lakes. The panorama below is a view of the Tatoosh Range before the trail gets down into the trees.

the tatoosh range from mazama ridge

Summer wildflowers and the Tatoosh Range

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   This stretch of the Lakes Trail is also where some of the iconic views of Mount Rainier with wildflowers are found. If you do hike this trail, or any of these trails in Mount Rainier National Park please don’t trample the wildflowers or other foliage along the trails. The “keep on the trail” signs are around for a reason as some visitors to these sensitive areas seem to see nothing wrong with wandering off the trail and crushing the wildflowers. It was at this point in the trail I was talking to one of the park volunteers and we noticed some moron about 50 feet off the trail behind us trampling through the wildflower field. If that wasn’t bad enough, he was dragging an aluminum stepladder around up there. After I’d left up the Skyline Trail I ran into the volunteer again – he’d given the stepladder guy a good lecture. This really shouldn’t be necessary…

   After making a few photographs along the Lakes Trail I headed back up to the junction with the Skyline Trail. I scouted the Skyline Trail up past the Stevens Van Trump Historic Monument at which point the light turned the sky a nice colour and the shadows disappeared from the foreground. At this elevation the Tatoosh Range comes into a better view compared to lower down on the Lakes Trail. I’ve said this before but often I prefer photographing the Tatoosh Range over Rainier itself – especially when in the Paradise area. I wrote a bit more about this in an earlier post featuring a panorama of the tatoosh range. Rainier takes up a lot of the sky and can be tough to photograph backlit by the sunset in the evenings. Dawn would probably be an ideal time, but I’m saving that for when I actually stay at the Paradise Inn or relatively nearby.

the tatoosh range from mazama ridge

Summer wildflowers on Mazama Ridge

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   I had seen a few photographs with the shadows of mountains at sunrise and sunset, but hadn’t give it much thought in terms of finding this phenomenon myself. It was on Mazama Ridge I saw this for the first time. The dark blue in the sky is the shadow of Mount Rainier cast down towards Stevens Valley and the Cascade mountains to the east.

the shadow of mount rainier from mazama ridge

The Shadow of Mount Rainier from Mazama Ridge

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   I’ve shown the following image before, but I think it remains my favourite of all the images I made that evening on Mazama Ridge. A lot of Magenta Paintbrush (Castilleja parviflora) in the foreground (as opposed to the usually dominant Lupines) and great sunset colours in the sky. This was near the intersection of the Skyline Trail and the Paradise Glacier Trail.

wildflowers and the tatoosh range from mazama ridges skyline trail in mount rainier national park

Rainier Wildflowers and the Tatoosh Range from Mazama Ridge.
Wildflower species include Broadleaf Lupine (Lupinus latifolius), Magenta Paintbrush (Castilleja parviflora) and Western Anenome seedheads (Anenome occidentalis)

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   You may also be interested in my report from the area north of the Paradise Inn – The Skyline Trail and the Golden Gate Trail and the Mount Rainier National Park gallery in my image archive.

A Few Images From Paradise At Mount Rainier

The Tatoosh Range just after sunset – from Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State, USA

sunset over the tatoosh range in mount rainier national park

Sunset over the Tatoosh Range from Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park

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   I recently caught up on a bit of my photo editing backlog and have now added just over 50 new photographs to my Mount Rainier National Park Gallery in my image library. I have published a few of those images in previous blog posts, but I thought I would share a few more from the Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park here.

   It’s not easy being a Marmot! While I was relaxing on a rock waiting for better light along the Golden Gate Trail in Mount Rainier National Park, I saw this Hoary Marmot (Marmota caligata) doing the same. Well, it probably wasn’t waiting for better light, but relaxing after a hard afternoon munching on lupine foliage and gathering nesting material. It clearly knew I was there, but didn’t seem to care at all. Probably was used to people along a relatively busy trail in the Paradise area of Mount Rainier.

hoary marmot in mount rainier national park

A Hoary Marmot (Marmota caligata) relaxes on a rock along the Golden Gate Trail in the Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State, USA

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   You can spot the deer, you can get in position to photograph them as they move through the wildflower field, but you can’t make them look at you! A pair of Black-tailed Deer (Odocileus hemionus columbianus) were nice enough to amble right past me in the wildflower fields on the Golden Gate Trail above Paradise, but never once glanced in my direction. I even scuffed my feet in the gravel trail once… nothing. At least I know I wasn’t disturbing them.

black tailed deer foraging in wildflower field

A Black-tailed Deer (Odocileus hemionus columbianus) foraging in the meadows near Edith Creek at Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State, USA

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   There is something I always enjoy about the combination of lush wildflowers (in this case mostly Broadleaf Lupines and some Pink Mountain Heather) and a waterfall. The mosquitoes thought so too!

wildflowers and an edith creek waterfall in mount rainier national park

Wildflowers surround a small waterfall on Edith Creek at Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State, USA

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   I have always found this angle of view on the Nisqually Glacier to be interesting from Ricksecker Point and other areas near Paradise. This time I photographed it from the Nisqually Vista Trail for an even better view. In this photograph you can see the icefall of the glacier and the terminus at the bottom, as well as the very beginnings of the Nisqually River from the melting ice.

terminus of the nisqually glacier and icefall on mount rainier

Terminus of the Nisqually Glacier on Mount Rainier

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You can see even more photographs from the Paradise area in my Mount Rainier National Park Gallery.

Spring in Campbell Valley Park

In Campbell Valley Park, a pair of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) escort their goslings across McLean Pond.

canada goose family on mclean pond campbell valley park

Canada Geese pair with goslings

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   As warmer, spring weather is finally here – I headed to Campbell Valley Park last week to photograph whatever I could find around McLean pond. Turns out the Dandelion flowers of the week before (see below) were spent, so I used most of my time photographing this Canada Goose family. Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) are pretty ubiquitous around here, but I hadn’t before had the opportunity to photograph a family such as this, and not as close as this. While I most often use it for landscapes, my 1.4x extender was purchased for wildlife encounters such as this one, and it performs well on my 70-200mm lens. This allowed me to sit on the bank and let them swim by whenever they wanted – I didn’t disturb them much at all. What did bother this pair was another pair of adults that seemed to take a run at them every 10 minutes or so. The male (I presume) would swim over, get really close to the mother and goslings, and the parental male would chase him away, then chase the female away. There was a lot of squawking, splashing and flapping of wings. I don’t know if this was about territory or what exactly, but they were persistent the entire time I was there (about an hour).

   In the Metro Vancouver/Fraser Valley area we don’t have big fields of wildflowers in any form other than that of the Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). While these are considered a weed in lawns and gardens – I do think they make a credible wildflower display in fields such as this one in Campbell Valley Park. Not quite as impactful as some of the alpine and subalpine fields with multiple species such as those found at Mount Rainier, but still worthy of some attention.

sunset at jack point in biggs park nanaimo

A field of Dandelions blooming in Campbell Valley Park

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See more of my photos from Campbell Valley Park.